Leave official-bungalows after exiting office: SC tells former UP CMs

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down an amendment proposed by the Uttar Pradesh government seeking to allow former state chief ministers to continue living in their official accommodation after demitting office.

"Chief Minister, once he/she demits office, is at par with common-citizen, though by virtue of office held, he/she may be entitled to security, etc".

"Once a person demits public office, there is nothing to distinguish them from common man", the Court stated while holding that the test of reasonable classification will fail.

As a result of this order besides Mr. Rajnath Singh, Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav, N.D. Tiwari and Kalyan Singh will have to vacate their government bungalows. "We are awaiting copy of the Supreme Court order to begin the process for its compliance", said Shukla.

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All former chief ministers in UP earlier retained the government bungalows, despite a law being passed by the Congress government in 1981 making it compulsory for CMs to vacate their bungalows within 15 days of leaving office. The top court quashed an earlier decision of the Uttar Pradesh government in this regard. The bench said amended Section 4 (3) of the 1981 Act recognised former holders of public office as a "special class of citizens", which is "arbitrary and discriminatory" thereby violating the equality clause. "The public office held by them becomes a matter of history and, therefore, can not form the basis of a reasonable classification to categorize previous holders of public office as a special category of persons entitled to the benefit of special privileges", it said.

Back in 20-16, the very best court had arranged the former main ministers to hand over the bungalows and'd asked the local government to bill them rent for the period during which these were "unauthorised" to dwell in them. But only four states responded. Court's verdict may not affect Centre's policy of providing residential accommodation to former President, Vice President and PM as the apex court had in 1997 approved it.

A bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the amendment in the legislation was ultra vires to the Constitution since it transgresses the concept of equality under the Constitution. The writ petition in question, therefore, is allowed.

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